Higher taxes for homeowners, lower taxes for businesses

Homeowners in Halifax may be seeing a rise in their residential tax, while local businesses will be potentially enjoying a decrease.

by Peter Nolan-Smith

Homeowners in Halifax may be seeing a rise in their residential taxes, while local businesses will be potentially enjoying a decrease.

HRM’s audit and finance committee voted 4 to 3 in favor to recommend a general residential tax rate increase by 2.5 per cent in the 2013-14 budget. This will cost an average of $35 extra a year per household.

The alternative option to the increase was to slash about $7 million dollars out of the budget.

“Raising taxes should be (a) last resort, not the default option,” said Coun.Tim Outhit during the meeting.

Outhit is against any kind of tax increase at all.

“We have a $16 million surplus from last year,” Outhit said over the phone. “If we cut $6.8 million more we wouldn’t have to raise taxes, that’s 6.8 out of $9 million.”

Coun. Russell Walker was of a different opinion.

“For 10 years we’ve been slashing and burning this capital budget and never putting enough into it,” he said, suggesting instead that the city focus more on repairing a neglected infrastructure as opposed to making more cuts.

Meanwhile, council will soon be reviewing the method by which commercial taxes are calculated. They are currently calculated in relation to residential taxes but the new idea being put forward suggests linking them to the city’s GDP.

The change would lower the current rate of 7.6 to 6.9 per cent.

A minimal difference, but one not every person is happy about.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” says homeowner Ron McDonald. “I understand they’re trying to attract business to the city but to lower a business tax while raising the cost to the average person is absurd.”

The Audit and Finance committee will be meeting twice again this month to continue further discussions about the cities finances.